Online scams in teens and young adults on the rise – here’s why

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A new study finds that teens and young adults might be falling for online scams at a higher rate than seniors.

That’s according to Social Catfish, a website dedicated to verifying email addresses, web pages, and online profiles.

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David McClellan, the founder and president of the company, said these findings were shocking to him. 

“We look at those people as more of the savvier people. You know, their grandparents and parents come to them asking them for help setting up routers and navigating Facebook,” said McClellan. “They are the generation that is helping all of us out. But what we have seen in our research and reports is that they are also influenced by other people on the internet.”

According to McClellan, online scams toward teens and young adults grew by 156% from 2017 to 2020.

McClellan said the numbers speak for themselves. In 2017, they reported around 9,000 victims, but in 2020, that number jumped to 23,000.

“It’s buying things online from unrecognized sources and getting scammed that way it’s giving personal identification that could lead to someone stealing your identify or someone getting access to something by accidently clicking on it,” said McClellan.

But what could be causing the uptick in online scams for teens and young adults?

McClellan said due to the coronavirus pandemic, people are spending less time outdoors and more time online.

He said this is a good reminder for everyone to remain vigilant when we shop, work, and socialize online.

“You go to school, and you learn about math, you learn about history, and you even learn about drugs, but you don’t learn about online safety — and so that has to change at some point,” said McClellan. “We have to start teaching online safety and the evolving trends because these scammers, their scams, evolve as technology evolves.”

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McClellan said it’s also worth noting although scams in teens and young adults have greatly increased, seniors remained the most victimized with more than 100,000 victims losing an estimated total of $966 million to online scams.

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